A spacecraft exploring where nothing from Earth has flown before, continuing on his more-than-40-year journey since his launches, by NASA on August 20, 1977, to study the outer planets.

A part of the Voyager program, it was launched 16 days before its twin, Voyager 1, on a trajectory that took longer to reach Jupiter and Saturn but enabled further encounters with Uranus and Neptune. It is the only spacecraft to have visited either of these two ice giant planets. Voyager 2 is the fourth of five spacecraft to achieve the Solar escape velocity, which will allow it to leave the Solar System.

Voyager 2 launch aboard Titan-Centaur rocket / Image source

Its primary mission ended with the exploration of the Neptunian system on October 2, 1989. Voyager 2 is in its extended mission to study Interstellar Space and has been operating for 43 years, 4 months and 30 days as of 19 January 2021. Spacecraft remains in contact through the NASA Deep Space Network.

Voyager 2 space probe carries a gold-plated audio-visual disc in the event that either spacecraft is ever found by intelligent life-forms from other planetary systems.

The Golden Records are two phonograph records that were included aboard both Voyager spacecraft / Image source

The message carry photos of the Earth and its lifeforms, a range of scientific information, spoken greetings from the people and a medley, “Sounds of Earth”, that includes the sounds of whales, a baby crying, waves breaking on a shore, and a collection of music, including works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Blind Willie Johnson, Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode”, Valya Balkanska and other Eastern and Western classics and ethnic performers.

The mission objective of the Voyager Interstellar Mission (VIM) is to extend the NASA exploration of the solar system beyond the neighborhood of the outer planets to the outer limits of the Sun’s sphere of influence, and possibly beyond.

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